Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday directed all deputy commissioners and district police chiefs to ensure that no migrant is forced to walk to any other state or remain hungry while in Punjab.
Any migrant found walking on the road should be transported by police to the nearest place by bus from where he/she can board a train or bus to his/her native state, the chief minister said. Till they leave Punjab, they should be provided food and water, he further said as part of his directions.
Urging migrants not to panic, the chief minister assured that the state government would make sure every single migrant who is keen to return home is assisted by the state, with arrangements for their free travel and food.
Underlining the state’s commitment to “look after every person in distress”, Amarinder said migrants were “our fellow Indians who contribute to the state and its economy”.
“Punjab is your karma-bhoomi, even if it is not your janam-bhoomi,” said the chief minister, appealing to migrants to not undertake the arduous journey home to their native places by foot as the state government is making all necessary arrangements for their travel by trains or buses.
The chief minister said more than 10 lakh persons have registered on the state portal for outbound movement from Punjab. The state government has undertaken a massive validation exercise of all registered persons by calling them individually to re-ascertain whether or not they are keen to return to their native states. “This is being done in view of the fact that in the past 3-4 days around two-thirds of the industrial units in the state have commenced operations after the easing of restrictions, following which the number of persons keen to travel out of Punjab has reduced considerably,” he said, calling it a welcome sign.
However, the state government will continue till persons evince a desire to return home, said Amarinder, adding that the state government has already paid Rs 20 crore to the Railways for free travel of migrant workers to their respective states.
The chief minister said that the 300th Special Shramik train departed from Patiala for Uttar Pradesh at 5 pm Sunday. By Sunday night, 311 Special Shramik trains carrying more than 3.90 lakh passengers would have been sent from different districts of Punjab to various other states, including those in south India and the North-East.
In addition, migrant workers are also being transported free of charge from their homes to railway stations by government buses across the state. Punjab has also sent state transport buses to drop migrant workers to districts of western Uttar Pradesh without any charge to migrants. “Punjab’s officers, both in the state headquarters as well as in the districts, have done a commendable job facilitating this organised movement of migrants,” said Amarinder.
At the same time, the state government is facilitating Punjabis stranded in other states to return to Punjab, including providing financial assistance for travel, wherever necessary.
The CM however expressed the hope that “all state governments will abide by their responsibility of transporting our persons stranded in other States.” He said he had already written to all concerned chief ministers in this regard. “Punjab is the motherland of all Punjabis and it is our duty to bring them back to the state,” he added.
Allaying concerns on this count amid fears of Covid-19, Amarinder further said that clear protocols are in place for quarantine and testing of such travelers to prevent further spread of the virus in the state.